Eran Malka, a former top officer in the Israel Police’s anti-corruption investigation unit, was sentenced on Sunday to eight years in prison, after admitting to passing on sensitive information about investigations to attorney Ronel Fisher in return for bribes.
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Jerusalem District Court Judge Jacob Zaban ruled that the appropriate punishment for Malka’s crimes is between six and 10 years imprisonment.
Malka's defense attorneyshad asked Zaban to make do with two to five years in prison. The unit to which Malka belonged, known as Lahav 433, is the Israeli equivalent of the FBI.
“The accused, a senior police officer in a sensitive position committed a series of crimes over a long period,” wrote Zaban. “He harmed the work of the police both in specific cases as well as its image and public trust. The accused was not only a gatekeeper of the rule of law, his role was more significant, he was supposed to strengthen foundations of the rule of law, but instead eroded its foundations repeatedly.”
Malka was convicted in June of accepted bribes and obstructing justice.
The judge also wrote that “The accused’s awareness of his deeds, his understanding of the wrongdoing and the serious damage he caused, tips the balance towards the maximum punishment, both as a deterrent and mainly as a suitable punishment. Still we must consider the accused’s confession, the profound regret he expressed, his complete cooperation as well as the conditions of his imprisonment (isolation).”
According to the plea bargain signed by the police investigations unit with Malka’s defense attorneysthe convicted cop will hand over all the information he has, including testifying against former commander of the police’s Central District Bruno Stein and the former head of the Tel Aviv State Attorney's office, Ruth David, who were allegedly involved in the bribery scheme, together with attorney Ronel.
In return, the police investigations unit will not revoke Malka's pension. Following sentencing Malka is to receive a two-week leave.
As part of the agreement, the state supported the claim that Malka contributed a great deal to the police force, and that even before signing the plea bargain he confessed to the suspicions against him and incriminated others without requesting compensation.
The defense claimed that attorney Fisher kept most of the money from the bribes. Malka expressed regret and noted that he had been captivated by Fisher’s charm. He said that he had considered suicide and asked for mercy for himself and his wife and children.
During the sentencing, Judge Zaban added: “The criminal acts were committed within the police force, in a systematic, active criminal plan for months on end, repeatedly. These reasons constitute a nightmare for the public, because in a place designed to fight corruption, it spread.
“The prolonged and systematic activity of the accused provided Fisher with repeated opportunities to bring about events that would channel money to the two of them. The accused partnered with Fisher and in quite a number of instances was the initiator and adviser regarding the transfer of information. The accused was aware all along that his acts were improper, and continued with them," said Zaban.
"The damage he caused is twofold: both direct damage to specific investigations, some of which have been postponed, but mainly to public confidence in the purity of the investigation and the investigative process. There is both immediate damage and future damage.”